Holiday shopping season is over, but stores are still busy due to the post-holiday return/exchange period, which doesn’t end until January 15th. While returning a purchase (or gift) isn’t your favorite reason for a customer to visit your store, it is still an opportunity to build brand affinity—and sometimes still make a sale.

Retail Leader Mindset

The official holiday season is always a whirlwind—but it’s not quite over. Your team may be energized from the holiday traffic and it’s your job to keep that momentum going. You also wouldn’t mind generating additional revenue (or saving existing revenue) through exchanges.

Corporate Mindset

You’re likely planning some needed store maintenance like physical inventory or other operational updates. While these are important, you also understand the stores need to continue to meet their sales targets and want to ensure you are able to help them do so.

Turn that frown upside down

When customers receive a gift they need to return or exchange, what they’ve really been given is an errand. For them, their goal is to get in and out as quickly as possible and they are likely not in discovery mode. That’s where corporate teams and retail leaders can help these customers to have a great experience, even though the initial item isn’t what they wanted.

  • Listen, acknowledge and empathize. Sales associates can be tempted to get a return or exchange over as quickly as possible. After all, taking a product back is unpleasant for everyone but this is a great opportunity to gather genuine feedback and build brand affinity through empathy. Take a few minutes to understand why they are returning the item and ensure that feedback makes its way back to your corporate team. Even if the customer doesn’t leave with a product on that day, by documenting their feedback you’re showing them that your brand listens to and cares for its customers.
  • Educate and recommend. When listening to the customer, you may discover that another product will suit their needs. They may simply have the wrong size or would rather have pants but received a shirt. Making an alternative recommendation will signal that you’re listening and that you want to meet their needs. The customer will also be more educated about your product assortment and may return to the store the next time they need something you carry.
  • Create promoters—even if they walk out empty-handed. While it’s preferable to turn a return into an exchange (and then some), the most important thing is to turn that customer into a promoter of your brand. Give them the same experience that you would give to someone who is discovering your brand for the first time—because they might be! Welcome them in and walk them through a quick brand story if they’re not familiar with it or the product offering. They’ll remember the service they received and might be back sooner than you expect.

There’s always something you can do to increase your Double//Vision.